Adam Smith is usually associated with a notion of social harmony which results from each individual in a given society striving to realize his or her interest indifferent or even antagonistic to the interests of others. According to this reading, the effect of such self-seeking, however, is quite the opposite of what individuals intend: without intending to help others or contribute in any way to their welfare, they nevertheless contribute to the prosperity of the whole. When we examine Smith’s understanding of ancient philosophy, however, we must confront the fact that Smith is an exponent of suffering and sacrifice in the service of providence. Lucretius’s notion of individuals breaking the pact of necessity which guarantees the providential order so that they may follow where pleasure may lead, could only discompose the order of things. Lucretius, whose arguments could only complicate Smith’s worldview, must be effaced from the history of philosophy.
Keywords: Providence, pleasure, interest, Epicureanism, Stoicism